The National Transportation Safety Board released probable cause reports on Friday for two fatal accidents that occurred during the hunting season in the fall of 2013. In both cases, pilot error was found to be the cause, though the circumstances surrounding each crash differed.
Pilot Scott Mueller and passenger Traeger Anderson were departing Tatitna Airport, about 50 miles southeast of Nikolai, in a Super Cub owned by Mueller when they crashed on Aug. 30. According to the NTSB, the aircraft was both excessively heavy and improperly loaded.
Ultimately, Mueller's decision to "load the airplane beyond its allowable takeoff weight and center of gravity limits ... resulted in a loss of control during the initial climb," the NTSB wrote. Other contributing factors were the external load and downwind takeoff. A downwind takeoff -- a takeoff with the wind coming from behind the aircraft -- requires additional runway distance to obtain the necessary airspeed to maintain flight. In this case, the downwind takeoff, along with the load issues, proved insurmountable.
Less than two weeks later, on Sept. 9, Kenneth Whedbee was piloting his home-built Zenith CH-701 airplane with passenger Jason Scott when they crashed shortly after takeoff from Kucera Residence Airport, which is about 4 miles northwest of Big Lake.
The NTSB determined that the probable cause in that accident was "the pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed while maneuvering at a low altitude, which resulted in a stall and subsequent spin from which he could not recover."
Cautionary stories, to be sure. There's more at the link.